Speaking amidst a chaotic Rajya Sabha, the home minister said the three terrorists that killed 3 civilians and 4 security personnel had snuck in from the Ravi river.
The government on Thursday asserted that the Gurdaspur attack had Pakistan connection, saying there is “overwhelmingly conclusive” evidence that the three terrorists had infiltrated from there to carry out the strike.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who made a statement in Rajya Sabha on Monday’s attack amid din created by Congress members, said the terrorists had sneaked in possibly because of the “difficult terrain coupled with recent heavy rains, resulting in excess flow in the rivers and canals along the border”.
He said the government will do everything possible to prevent cross-border terrorism and “any effort by the enemies of our nation to undermine India’s territorial integrity and security or imperil the safety and security of our citizens will meet an effective and forceful response from our security forces”.
Giving details about the attack, Singh said, “preliminary analyses of GPS data indicates that the terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan through the area near Tash in Gurdaspur district where the Ravi river enters Pakistan.”
He said, “The security forces in the border are alert but the difficult terrain coupled with recent heavy rains, resulting in excess flow in the rivers and canals along the border, could have been a factor, in this particular group sneaking into Punjab.”
Minister for Finance and Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley later told reporters outside Parliament that the evidence that the Gurdaspur attack had Pakistan connection is “overwhelmingly conclusive” but refused to say whether dialogue with Pakistan was still possible after this.
“The evidence that it is an attack from across the border now appears to be overwhelmingly conclusive,” he said.
Asked if dialogue with Pakistan was possible in view of this, Jaitley said, “That is a view the government will take and the external affairs ministry will take. I would not like to comment on this. That is part of a diplomatic strategy.”
While Singh spoke in Rajya Sabha, the Congress members, carrying placards, were shouting slogans in the Well against the prime minister and his government over the terror attack.
The slogans included: “56 inch ki chhati hai hai (down with 56 inch chest)’ and ‘Narendra Modi hai hai (down with Narendra Modi)’ and ‘NDA government hai hai (down with NDA government).
When Congress members created din as soon as Singh started to speak, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien disapproved of it, saying it was “not politics” but a “statement on a terrorist attack” that concerns the security of the country.
The home minister assured the House that “the government will do everything possible to prevent cross-border terrorism aimed against India... I take this opportunity to assure the House that the government is firmly committed to root out terrorism from India.”
The government “has been and will remain resolute in this regard”, he said in the statement after, immediately after which Kurien adjourned the House for the day because of din.
Singh said during the last one month, there were five attempts at cross-border infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir sector, out of which four were interdicted and eight terrorists neutralised.
In the remaining one instance, the terrorists went back after effective retaliation by the Indian forces, he said.
About the July 27 attack, he gave the sequence of events when three heavily-armed terrorists dressed in army uniforms struck in Gurdaspur around 5.30 am and stormed the police station, leading to a 12-hour gun battle.
Singh hailed the Punjab police for engaging the terrorists “effectively” and said all efforts were made to apprehend the attackers and prevent their escape besides avoiding any collateral damage.
The army and National Security Guard were placed on standby to support the Punjab police operations, he said, adding the union home ministry monitored the situation closely and was in constant touch with the Punjab government.
“In the end, all the three terrorists were neutralised in this successful operation,” Singh said and added with regret that Superintendent of Police (Detective) Baljeet Singh, “who was leading from front”, was martyred.
During the operation, the Border Security Force and the army were placed on high alert along the border, he said.
The Punjab police have recovered a number of “incriminating material” including three AK rifles, 19 magazines and two GPS devices from the dead terrorists, which are being analysed for further necessary action, he said.
In the attack, three civilians, three Home Guards and one police officer lost their lives, he said, adding 10 civilians and seven security force personnel were also injured.
It is suspected, he said, that the same terrorists had planted five Improvised Explosive Devices on the railway track near Talwandi village between Dina nagar and Jhakoladi which were subsequently defused by the bomb disposal squad. A night vision device was also recovered from the spot.
Earlier in the day, both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha condemned the attack and condoled the deaths that took place in the incident.
India’s assertion on Gurdaspur terrorists ‘baseless’: Pakistan
Pakistan on Thursday rejected as “baseless” India’s assertion that the Gurdaspur attackers had infiltrated from there, saying such “provocative” comments are a threat to regional peace and security and asked India to share concrete evidence before pointing fingers.
“The government of Pakistan categorically rejects the baseless allegations made by Rajnath Singh, home minister of India, in the Parliament, today,” foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said in a statement.
He said Pakistan regrets the “unsubstantiated and unwarranted assertion that those involved in the Gurdaspur incident of 27 July, had entered India from Pakistan. Pakistan believes that home minister’s provocative comments are a threat to peace and security of the region.”
“We have noted with concern a continuing tendency of India to cast blame on Pakistan for any terrorist incident in India,” the spokesperson said, adding that pointing fingers without investigation is not a healthy trend.
“In the Gurdaspur incident, blames were apportioned to Pakistan in the Indian media, even when the encounter with terrorists was still going on,” he said, pointing out that immediately after the Gurdaspur incident, Pakistan had condemned the Gurdaspur attack “in the strongest terms”.
Khalilullah said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
“Terrorism is a common enemy of both Pakistan and India. To tackle terrorism, a cooperative approach is required. Blame game, and finger-pointing would be unhelpful,” he added.
“We urge India to refrain from casting baseless allegations and work with Pakistan to eliminate terrorism from the region and create an environment of peace and amity in South Asia. If India has any concrete evidence in this case, same may be shared with Pakistan,” the statement added.